Crashed WW2 Spitfire flies again after £3m refit

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Aero Legends Ltd

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After its first post-restoration flight from Duxford, the aeroplane will be flown from aerodromes in Northampton and Kent

A World War Two Spitfire will fly for the first time in more than 70 years after undergoing a three-year restoration costing £3m.

The aeroplane flew 27 combat missions between June and July 1944 before it was shot down near Caen in France.

The French Resistance helped Canadian pilot Jimmy Jeffrey return to his unit.

Spitfire NH341 remained in France until Aero Legends Ltd bought it in 2011. Its first post-refit flight will be at the Imperial War Museum in Cambridgeshire.

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Flt Lt Bruce Whiteford flew NH341 more than any other pilot. He had his wife Elizabeth’s initials and name painted on the plane

Aero Legends owner Keith Perkins said he was “totally unaware” of the plane’s history before he bought it.

It was flown by nine pilots from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 411 (Grizzly Bear) squadron during its short service.

Flt Lt (later Squadron Leader) H C “Charlie” Trainor shot down two German Messerschmitt 109s while flying NH341.

Image copyright
Aero Legends Ltd

Image caption

The aeroplane was displayed at the Musee Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie at Bayeux in 1996 and later displayed at the Juno Beach Museum before restoration

The aeroplane was described as “better than anything else” by Flying Officer Tommy Wheler, now 96, who destroyed several German mechanised transports during his 24th sortie in the Spitfire.

It was shot down on 2 July 1944 over Normandy but WO Jeffrey managed to bail out.

The French Resistance helped him return to his unit – having first taken him to a nearby town for a hair cut and to buy some cheese.

Spitfire NH341 has been converted into a two-seat trainer plane as part of the £3m restoration.

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